Sure, fighter pilot is a nice job. But not always:
Opening days of Operation Desert Storm on Jan. 19, 1991. US fighter jets were roaring through Iraqi airspace, and anti-aircraft crews were waiting for them with surface-to-air missiles (SAM). U.S. F-16s were trying to attack a rocket production facility north of Baghdad this day.
For Air Force Major E.T. Tullia, this was certainly an unforgettable mission that saw him cheating death not once, but six times.
But here are the details:
As the flight approached the Baghdad IP, Anti-Aircraft Artillery began firing at tremendous rates. Most of the AAA was at 10-12,000ft 3,500m, but there were some heavy, large calibre explosions up to 8,230m.
Low altitude AAA became so thick it appeared to be an undercast. At this time, the 388th TFW F-16’s were hitting the Nuclear Research Centre outside of the city, and the Weasels had fired off all their HARMs in support of initial parts of the strike and warnings to the 614th F-16’s going further into downtown went unheard.
Many of the F-16 pilots that day had to deal with SAM missiles locking on to them, and were forced to take evasive maneuvers. Maj. Tullia (Callsign: Stroke 3) had to dodge six of those missiles, at times banking and breathing so hard that he was losing his vision.